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"Love" is what's important

Thu 21 Nov 2013 In: Features View at NDHA

Jonathan Selu from Tagata Pasifika for Marriage Equality is saddened at the Samoan Prime Minister’s bitter comments about a gay Samoan man’s wedding in New Zealand. He thinks political leaders should be more aware of the impact they can have. While he has in the past praised fa'afafine as “glorious miracles”, Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi believes men marrying is “inappropriate”. His comments were based on the Manawatu nuptials of Ralph Molesi and Will Brobbel, which screened on Tagata Pasifika. Malielegaoi told the Samoa Observer that the usual thing to say during wedding ceremonies is that "I now declare you husband and wife." He added he believes "I now declare you man and husband and that is very inappropriate," and the problem with the world today is that "everything is upside down." Tuilaepa refused to comment further except to say that the wedding was "a Kiwi matter, not ours." His comments led to a flood of homophobia on the newspaper’s website and social media. Now, Jonathan Selu from the group Tagata Pasifika for Marriage Equality responds: The stance that Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi on gay marriage is saddening because it implies that homosexuality is not acceptable in the fa'aSamoa. However, personally, I understand how he has come to this opinion, for it is one that is common amongst the older generation of Samoans. Unlike New Zealand, Samoa is a country based on Christian values, morals and beliefs, of which homosexuality is not counted as one of them. With that said, I can't agree with the marginalisation and demonisation of something that is not a choice. As much as people in the Western world don't choose to be gay, neither do our Pacific Rainbow ‘āiga choose homosexuality over heterosexuality. It is not a Western evil that has been imposed on Samoa (or the Pacific), but a human trait that simply is. I believe that Samoa has a long way to go before homosexuality is accepted in the country but I still think that our politicians and leaders should be more aware of how impacting their opinions can be for the people that they lead. Health outcomes for our queer Pacific communities are considerably lower than that of our heterosexual ‘āiga, especially in the realms of mental health and addictions. By further marginalising our Rainbow communities outside of our fa'afafine sisters doesn't do anybody any good. I feel for Ralph Molesi and his husband as this incident has tarnished what should have been a joyous occasion for the two of them and their ‘āiga. I congratulate the two of them and wish them the greatest of happiness in their journey together. That is what is important; the love between two individuals and the commitment that they make to each other in the presence of those whom they hold dearest to them. with Jonathan Selu - 21st November 2013    

Credit: with Jonathan Selu

First published: Thursday, 21st November 2013 - 10:29am

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